Logo for How God Works: The Science Behind Spirituality

How God Works: The Science Behind Spirituality

PRX

While religion and science often seem at odds, there’s one thing they can agree on: people who take part in spiritual practices tend to live longer, healthier, and happier lives. The big question is: Why? In How God Works, professor Dave DeSteno takes us on a journey to find out how spirituality impacts our minds and bodies, as well as the world in which we live.

He speaks to leading scientists and philosophers, religious thinkers, and thought leaders to explore what we can learn from the world’s faith traditions to help us meet some of life’s biggest challenges. Along the way, he’ll look at how we can adapt and use spiritual practices in our own lives, whatever our beliefs, including none at all.

It’s by working across the boundaries that usually divide us – science versus religion, one faith versus another – that we’ll find new ways to make life better for everyone.

David DeSteno

While religion and science often seem at odds, there’s one thing they can agree on: people who take part in spiritual practices tend to live longer, healthier, and happier lives. The big question is: Why? In How God Works, professor Dave DeSteno takes us on a journey to find out how spirituality impacts our minds and bodies, as well as the world in which we live.

He speaks to leading scientists and philosophers, religious thinkers, and thought leaders to explore what we can learn from the world’s faith traditions to help us meet some of life’s biggest challenges. Along the way, he’ll look at how we can adapt and use spiritual practices in our own lives, whatever our beliefs, including none at all.

It’s by working across the boundaries that usually divide us – science versus religion, one faith versus another – that we’ll find new ways to make life better for everyone.

David DeSteno

Soul-ercise

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July 9, 202334min 54sec

The lights are dimmed, candles are lit, bodies begin to sway together as the voice from the stage says a spirit-lifting, soul-stirring affirmation…and then screams “Now sprint for 10!”.

Group fitness classes have, for many, become something more than just a good way to get the blood pumping and pounds dropping. On this episode we take a look at why exercise classes from Soul Cycle to Crossfit have become some of the most fervent venues for secular spirituality and how some religious leaders and institutions are re-discovering this age-old symbiosis of body and spirit -- ones that use the body to change what we feel, how we connect, and what we believe.

And we'll learn some of the science behind why sweating together brings us closer together.

Episode Guests:

Casper ter Kuile is the author of the book The Power of Ritual. Find out more about his work on his website.

Emma Cohen is a Professor of Cognitive Anthropology at the University of Oxford, where she leads the Social Body Lab.

Rabbi Jaymee Alpert is the co-creator of Neshama Body and Soul, a practice that combines exercise with prayer.